[MAD] Mary Ann & Don

Archive for February, 2010

France Days 8 & 9: Burgundy

Posted by madkingblog on February 27, 2010

Driving to Burgundy was long, but luckily we had the pastries from the night before when we had thought they were going to be our dinner! haha. We also had some cheese, bread, and marinated olives we had picked up the day before from the Saturday market on our way out of Sarlat… DIVINE! Best olives I’ve ever had hands down, YUM. This was a long drive across the country so we were taking highways most the way and it wasn’t very scenic… until we hit Burgundy!

You know the minute you enter, it turns into beautiful rolling hills of the greenest green I’ve ever seen.  And these quaint cottage style houses start popping up with little trails of smoke coming out of their chimney’s, very quintessential French countryside.  THEN we hit the vineyards and it became quintessential French wine country! It was really awesome and Don kept sleeping, so I kept waking him up because he was missing it! haha.

We finally made it to our B&B, and although it was a very nice place with a great and cozy room, I was disappointed because the description from the website had led me to believe this was a winery.  I had planned this part of the trip to be staying on a vineyard, or at least more in the middle of that scene! Instead the B&B was basically in the suburbs of Dijon. I’ve since went back and looked at the website again and it is REALLY misleading. Anyways, it could be a great area and place to stay IF that  is what you  are looking for, but not at all what we had in mind.

So o’well! We went into Dijon for a wonderful dinner that night and the next day we drove down to Beaune. Killer cute old French city surrounded by vineyards. We went to the Marche Aux Vins which is an old church with a wine tasting tour that starts in the cellars and then leads back up to the main level. It is self led, which is awesome and there were SO many wines, which means by the end it was hard to taste the difference haha. We ended buying a case to ship home. It FINALLY arrived here at home months after us! We’ve only had one bottle so far but it was wonderful and did not disappoint.

Each “tasting” was at a little station set up like this…

And then it led back to the main level…

A few MAGNUM bottles…

And back outside strolling around Beaune…

That was pretty much it for Burgundy… We had dinner in Dijon again that night and again it was wonderful (I’m convinced there is no such thing as a bad meal in France). Right after we got back I had Don write down some stuff he remembered and about this dinner he writes… “for dinner we went to an italian place, I had 5 fromage raviolo and Mary Ann had the best Lasagna evar! Then MA gave me half of her lasagna because she loves me soooo muuuuch and she was full.” LOL, what a cutie.

The next day we turned in our rental car and jumped on a train to Paris!!


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France Day 7: Crazy Creepy Castle Night!

Posted by madkingblog on February 21, 2010

Before I begin the story of our crazy and creepy night in a castle, let me say that Chateau de Tennessus is an AWESOME B&B.  It is a true castle with a mote, drawbridge, towers, the whole nine yards, it is fantastic… and a family bought it and restored it making it into a B&B so that others could share in the experience of staying in a castle! Our friends Michelle and Aaron stayed there in September and had a wonderful time!

So for us, several conditions came together in just the wrong way but it made for a memorable night! Not the kind of memorable night we expected but a memorable night none the less!

So this story actually begins a few days before we left for France when I got an email for the host, who speaks English (in fact I think he is English), saying that he needed to go out of town on our arrival date but that he had a friend who would be there to get us settled, and then would come back in the morning. I was kind of disappointed that we wouldn’t meet the host family, but , OK, he had us covered, that should be fine.

So on the Saturday that we drove to the castle, we left Sarlat and it was five hours going north… we were leaving beautiful southern France =( and by the time we arrived at the castle it was raining and windy and getting dark. We ran inside with our things and the stand-in hosts speaks NO English, and I couldn’t understand any of her French. I’m not, by any means, fluent but I know enough to get the general idea of what someone is saying and usually piece together an answer. I couldn’t figure out anything she was saying… at this point I was really regretting not spending more time on French lessons before our trip. She showed us around and gestured enough for us to get the idea, haha. We go our big key to the castle and she showed us to our room. So coool.

While we were getting settled into our room, our stand-in host was standing in the doorway saying something and the lights went out! PITCH BLACK! And she says “UUUHHH NOOOO”… LOL!!  Not a good sign! Luckily I remembered where I had laid my keys and I have an LED light on my key chain so I used it to guide us all down the spiral staircase and she led us to one far side of the castle where the breaker box was located. When we got the lights back on my first thought was that she is leaving and locking this side of the castle so what are we supposed to do if the lights go out again!  Oh well. Not much we can do considering I don’t know French well enough to express my concern. So thank goodness, another couple showed up, we weren’t going to be totally alone!

So we head into town for dinner, and find out that in a small French town you pretty much MUST have reservations at any type of restaurant… hell, even the pizzeria type place couldn’t take us without one.  We went to several places and keep getting turned away. We were giving up and stopped at a bakery and bought pastries, and we really thought we were going to have to eat them for dinner.  Then, on a whim, we tried one last place, a Middle Eastern/Moroccan type place.  Of course the first thing the host asked was if we had a reservation and we said no but we must have looked pathetic enough because he looked around and then gave us a little table near the back. We were SO thankful. Then we got our food and were even MORE thankful, the food was amazing! Which is par in France! So dinner turned out well, we had a great meal in a cozy restaurant and the host kept coming over to tease and talk with us. I even showed him how to use his hand-held credit card swiping machine hahaha. He was trying to swipe the corner of the card I kid you not.  =)

So we finally made it back to the castle and the other couple was out so it was just Don and I for awhile. We couldn’t make a fire because the wind was blowing too hard, which sucked because that was one the things I was most looking forward to about our castle stay.  We ran around the room taking  some pictures and explored the castle a bit.

Eventually, we heard the other couple come in and then, the inevitable, the lights went out again!  The couple above sounded kind of distressed and they hadn’t been there when it happened earlier… I wanted to go check on them, but Don was like, well, we don’t need lights to sleep, lets do that. haha. He was already falling asleep but I could still hear the couple above and it sounded like that might be trying to figure out what to do, so I got up and used my LED to go up the spiral stone stair case, and I could only see directly where I was shining the light, other wise, pitch black around me. I made it up to the couples room above us to see if they needed some light to find candles or something, but I could see light under their door so I guess they were ok.  I went back to our room and cozied up with Don and tried to get some sleep.  The wind was literally howling outside the windows and making a buffeting sound over the fire place flute. There were SO many noises! I convinced myself that any creaking was the couple above walking around. But also, water was dripping into the fireplace from the rain and then I swear at one point there was a drip onto the canopy of our bed! WEIRD!  I’ve never been able to figure that out! I finally feel asleep at some point to this cacophony of sounds, and I later wake up when Don grabs the LED light and starts shining it around the room.  You can only see a small portion of this huge room at a time with the little LED. He had woke up and heard what sounded like shuffling feet in the room!  UGH! And he could see some light out the window and there should have been none since there was only fields that direction. CREEPY.

No fire, no lights, we had to used our key chain to even navigate to the bathroom and it was SO cold. So needless to say we had a really uncomfortable night in so many ways and just wanted it to be OVER with. I knew when our stand in host was back in the morning because the lights came back on! I hope she told the host about the lights going out because if stuff like that is going to happen, guests should not be left alone in the castle. I’m sure it would have been a COMPLETELY different experience if someone had been there that we knew we could go to when there was a problem. It would have also been a different experience if we could have had a cozy fire or something, but I guess there isn’t much anyone can do about the wind! We did have a nice breakfast in the morning and stopped to take more pictures of the castle in the daylight.

I had JUST pulled the car up to get Don who was still snapping pictures when it started to pour down again… so he jumped in and we headed for Burgundy… unfortunately relieved to be leaving. O’well, maybe one day we’ll visit the castle again on better terms.  All in all, it was quite the experience.

After the castle we stayed in Dijon for 2 nights and then Paris for 4… and it is taking me so long to get to these blogs (and WordPress and Flickr are ridiculously cumbersome) that I’m just doing two more. One for Burgundy and one for Paris with a quick summary of our four days and some “best of” pics.  That way I might actually get to blog about some things that have happened SINCE France, like our birthdays or the awesome Jazz concert for Valentines. =)

SOOO, next up, Burgundy!  Let’s see how long it takes me to get to that!

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